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Peppernut Cookies (AKA Pfeffernusse )

Preview: Peppernut Cookies (AKA Pfefernusse) are bite-sized cookies with a European heritage. Perfect for gift-giving or holiday parties.

These cookies won the Star-Telegram Christmas cookie contest a while back. Or maybe it was second place. I’m not sure. Anyway, I printed the details and stuck them in my someday-I-want-to-try-this file.

Crunchy Gingerbread Bites in a bowl along with cookies packaged for gift-giving

When I heard our church needed cookies for the Christmas baskets we give to the older and less mobile members, I dug out this recipe. It was the perfect opportunity to experiment because I would have something to do with them besides stuff my own face.

Why these cookies make excellent gifts:

  1. They don’t crumble.
  2. They stay fresh and delicious for up to 3 weeks or can be frozen.
  3. No decorating required.

Are peppernuts and pfeffernusse the same thing?

Yes.  Peppernuts are the English translation of pfeffernusse. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

These miniature sweets are some trouble, officially qualifying them as Christmas cookies. I’ve figured out if you want to be labeled a Christmas cookie, you must be either red, green, or labor-intensive. 

Now I’m not saying these cookies are difficult to make. On the contrary, they couldn’t be easier. It just takes a chunk of time to cut all those little pieces of dough. Don’t worry. The last tray only took about a third of the time of the first tray.

Rolling out peppernut cookies:

portioning dough for peppernuts

Originally, I thought I would roll each little ball by hand.  HA! There must be about a thousand per batch. People eat them by the handfuls, so trying to make them look perfect is wasted energy.

tray of Pfeffernusse

To package them, I put about 3/4 cup in each cellophane bag (available at craft stores) and tied each package with red raffia. A cute Christmas label would have been nice. (Sigh) Maybe next year.

If you enjoyed this recipe, it would help others and me if you gave it a five-star rating inside the recipe card below. 🤩 No comment required. Thank you.

Hope to see you again soon!

p.s. Questions or suggestions? Please email me: Paula at

Yield: 100 cookies

Peppernuts (Pfeffernusse) Recipe


These crispy bite-size cookies are reminiscent of gingerbread. Also known as Pfeffernusse.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 9 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 9 minutes


  • 1 cup butter (8 oz) (2 sticks)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons dark syrup (I used date syrup but dark corn syrup or molasses is also good)
  • 3-1/2 cup all-purpose flour (420 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise flavoring (optional)


  1. Whip room-temperature butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and egg and continue to beat.
  2. Add remaining ingredients in order given.
  3. Pull off small pieces of dough and roll to the thickness of a pencil. Slice into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Place on a cookie sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350˚F for 7-9 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 176Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 52mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 2g

Did you make this recipe?

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Friday 18th of December 2020

Hi....I am making the Crunchy Gingerbread Bites and it seems like I have way too much dough for your directions. I am making the ropes larger than a pencil but smaller than a cigar. I cut the pieces in 1/2 cuts and I will have way more than your “33 yield”.....Or did you mean with 3 servings for the nutritional directions that it is a 99 bite yield? Thanks...


Sunday 20th of December 2020

Hi Maggie,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. We had our family Christmas yesterday, so I didn't have a chance to respond.

I can see how you got confused. Yes, the recipe makes approximately 100 little pieces but since there is no exact measuring going on, everybody will cut their cookies slightly differently so the number will vary. Only one little piece would be a small serving so I counted three.

I'm curious. How many pieces did you get in the end. Did you count them? Hope they were good.


Thursday 19th of December 2019

I had a Lutheran women's group (with Germanic ancestors) make these and I've been searching for a similar recipe ever since. This looks more like what they made than anything else I've seen online.

Quick question. Do you really use anise essential oil (food grade)? I read online that anise extract is 4X less potent, so 1/2 oil tsp= 2 tsp of extract. I'm assuming that 2 tsp would water down the dough. Have you ever made it with extract? Where do you get the anise oil? I've seen it in stores that sell essential oils, but never in the big box stores' baking isles.


Thursday 19th of December 2019

I checked my cabinet to see exactly what I used. It's called "Natural Anise Flavor" from BOYAJIAN. It is not oil. I will correct the recipe.

Thank you for writing to ask. Hope you get to make them and love them.


Saturday 16th of November 2019

I've been looking for a good recipe for these and ran across your blog. My German grandmother, who came over to America on 'the boat', used to make pfeffernusse every year. The online recipes for, supposedly authentic, pfeffernusse are all over the map. Going to give these a try as they are said to be crunchy, as Grandma's cookies were. By the way, her's were quite small cookies, but when helping her, I remember forming ropes of cookie dough that were more like the diameter of maybe a cigar, than a pencil, and then slicing them up, I suppose the size is optional ;)


Tuesday 19th of November 2019

If you make these, I hope they turn out crunchy like your Grandmother's cookies.


Thursday 21st of December 2017

Dumb question but when you say soda you mean baking soda right?


Thursday 21st of December 2017

Yes. Baking soda.


Friday 16th of December 2016

i made these one time last year and loved them so i decided to make them again but this time my dough is very crumbly i cant get it to stay together so i can roll them. what did i do wrong this time and how can i fix it. please help.


Sunday 18th of December 2016

Arlene, Since I didn't watch you make them last year or this year, I'm at a loss as to what you did wrong. Perhaps you measured wrong? or left something out? Sorry I can't be more helpful.

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